September 28, 2012
Katyn Massacre Hushed up by Allies, U.S. Files Suggest
U.S. and British wartime leaders hushed up evidence that the Soviet secret police killed thousands of Polish prisoners of war in and around the Katyn Forest in 1940 in order not to anger Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, newly declassified documents suggest.
The U.S. National Archive Sept. 10 declassified and posted on its website some of its files related to the 1940 Katyn massacre. The documents appear to confirm long-standing suspicions that the Americans and British knew early on that it was the Soviets, not the Germans, who were responsible for the massacre—despite Soviet attempts to pin the blame on German forces.
The Katyn massacre took place soon after the Soviet Union invaded Poland on Sept. 17, 1939. At least 21,000 Polish POWs were murdered on the orders of the Soviet authorities in and around the Katyn Forest in 1940.
The released documents include files of the U.S. Department of State, Department of Defense and the U.S. Army on the Katyn massacre, the archives of Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, U.S. intelligence documents, materials from the Nuremberg trials, and German materials taken over by the U.S. Army in 1945, including films and aerial photographs of the Katyn Forest.
According to most Polish historians, the newly released documents contribute little new information on the crime. For many years it has been known, they say, that the U.S. and British authorities during World War II were aware of who had murdered the Polish officers. However, the then U.S. president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, hushed up the truth about the Katyn massacre because he did not want to anger Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, an ally who the Americans were counting on in the war against Germany and Japan. The British authorities behaved in a similar way.
Slovak Honor for Bartoszewski
At a ceremony in Warsaw Sept. 12, former foreign minister and World War II resistance fighter Władysław Bartoszewski, now a senior official in the Polish Prime Minister’s Office, received the Slovak Order of the White Double Cross in recognition of his contribution to improving Slovak-Polish relations.
The Order of the White Double Cross is the highest state order in Slovakia. Awarded by Slovakian President Ivan Gasparovic, it was presented to Bartoszewski during a wreath-laying ceremony at a boulder commemorating the participation of Slovaks in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
The ceremony took place on Iringha Square in Warsaw’s Czerniaków neighborhood. In 2002, Bartoszewski, who himself took part in the Warsaw Uprising, unveiled a plaque there commemorating Slovak insurgent Miroslav Iringh.
Iringh, born in 1914 and whose nom de guerre was “Stanko,” fought alongside Polish insurgents during the 1944 uprising. He remained in Nazi-occupied Warsaw after the outbreak of World War II, deciding against leaving for Slovakia. He joined the Polish underground and led a unit of 535 Slovak insurgents. This was the only international platoon that fought in the Warsaw Uprising.